STOP THAT NONSENSE INDEED!

Today’s Fiji Times editorial….

“THE process of seeking public opinion on the proposed People’s Charter is nothing less than a farce. It is impossible for anyone in this country to read and form an opinion of the document within the time frame specified by field officers and their police escorts.

On Tuesday night the proposed charter was distributed to people in the Nausori Parish Hall. They were expected to read the document in two hours while listening to the views of the team sent to proselytize the message of the interim government and the National Council for Building a Better Fiji. At the end of the session, attendees were told to fill forms to declare their support, or otherwise, for the proposed People’s Charter.

This is ridiculous.

Every individual must be allowed time to thoroughly read this document which will have an obvious impact on their lives. They must also be given the opportunity to discuss the issue with their neighbours, friends, relatives or people whose views they respect.

At the very least, anyone who wants to read this literature must be given a week in which to read the document, seek opinions and make a choice.

This would mean that the proposed charter document be delivered to homes on one week with the forms being collected seven days later. It would also mean that citizens do not have to make a decision with a police officer or soldier hovering in the background.

The architects of the charter know full well the perception which ordinary people have of the police and army. They view these officers as enforcers of State policy and fear the repercussions of rejecting this document.

Intimidation is the only word we have to describe the process.

At Navua on Wednesday night, people at Tokotoko, Calia and Raiwaqa gathered for a Ramayan recital in their settlements.

At these religious gatherings, government teams accompanied by uniformed police and soldiers in plain clothes distributed the charter document and demanded they be signed on the spot. Much earlier in this process we made the stand that if the regime is so bent on implementing the charter, it must not waste taxpayers’ money and time.

The people of this nation must not be used to legitimize the policies of the interim government, the army and the NCBBF. Nor should civil servants be travelling round the country, neglecting the jobs for which they are paid in what is so obviously a political campaign. The interim government must decide once and for all whether it wants the people to have a say in the governance of the country.

If the people are to decide, give them time and stop the intimidation.”

14 Responses to “STOP THAT NONSENSE INDEED!”

  1. Dauvavana Says:

    Yeah stop the bullshit, that’s what the headline should read!!

  2. Believe it or Not Says:

    2nd that – more like pig shit though.

  3. FijiGirl Says:

    Here’s what Fiji Association of Women Graduates had to say to the illegals.
    Good food for thought here.
    Look up the ‘Hundred Flowers Movement’ on wikipedia.
    OK, so these nuts don’t have the resources to process all the info about people who choose not to support the charter, but who’s to say their buddies from India and China won’t step in to fill the breach?

    FAWG Charter Feedback
    Fiji Association of Women Graduates is a voluntary and non-profit organization of women graduates working to promote lifelong education, to improve the status of women and girls and to enable women to effect positive change for a peaceful world. FAWG is member of the International Federation of University Women (IFUW) and the Pacific Graduates Women’s Network (PGWNet), an affiliate of the National Council of Women, networks with other women’s groups in Fiji and other international women’s organisations.

    FAWG notes the draft ‘People’s Charter for Change, Peace and Progress’ by the National Council for Building a Better Fiji, and the ‘State of the Nation and Economy Report’. This document is FAWG Council’s feedback to NCBBF on the charter, report and their feedback processes.

    Importance of Education. Education is a key factor in securing long-term development, especially in the developing world. A 1992 World Bank Report clearly states ‘money spent on increasing the education of girls is not only more socially productive than military outlays. It is also far more productive than other social sector outlays – and than … vastly larger physical capital outlays….”1 Furthermore, “returns to education for women are frequently larger than the returns to education for men. Empirical evidence also shows that increases in female education improve human development outcomes such as child survival, health and schooling; the impacts on these outcomes are larger for a given increase in women’s education than for an equal increase in men’s education.”2 FAWG has conclusive proof the charter’s proposed increased investment in the role of the military3 would have more substantial long-term returns if the increases were spent on education, especially gender-oriented education.

    FAWG Council notes the report’s intentions for parental education, and the charter’s ‘quality education for all’. However, the FAWG Council notes that given gender has such substantial influence on development, there is an alarming omission of education and gender. The charter’s intention to expand the role of the military in society is also concerning. Evidence suggests this political and social engineering will disadvantage women in the long term. The military’s massive gender imbalance is not reflected in civil society and the gender gap will have inevitable negative repercussions. Additionally, the military’s own actual racial imbalance contradicts the charter’s professed aim for racial equality. This contradiction must be resolved in the drive to ‘bring RFMF closer to the people’.

    FAWG Council remains unconvinced that the general principles listed to end the coup culture are based on thorough research which guarantees strong and appropriate action to achieve the desired end. More research and education is needed to determine what aspects make our military susceptible to coup-d’etat, and strategise to limit these aspects. The military and its leaders acted correctly in the 2000 coup, ousting the illegal regime and CRW, and giving the overthrown government the option to reconvene parliament. But all other coups have represented a wrong turn for Fiji. FAWG Council agrees the coup culture must be abolished, but finds the charter’s proposals lack strong, forward thinking strategies and quality research.

    Poverty Gap. FAWG Council notes the charter’s intention to reduce poverty and commit to a timetable for the same, which echoes the work of previous governments. Women are the worst effected by poverty in any society and yet, when women in poverty are educated, they bring the greatest returns to the national economy for health, income generation, family and national development.4 Unfortunately, the charter fails to connect poverty with a lack of education, or poverty alleviation with education. FAWG has access to a formidable body of respected local and international studies proving the inverse relationship between poverty and education. The failure of both the charter and the report to realise this relationship and the inter-relatedness of poverty to other pillars of society, indicates inadequate research and scant understanding of poverty and its alleviation.

    Because the charter and report fail to grasp this fundamental and important truth, we can reasonably conclude that the other ‘key pillars’ addressed elsewhere 5, such as land issues, ‘social cohesion’, electoral reforms, sustainable economic growth, ‘sustainable democracy’, good governance, etc, are not clearly researched. This is a grave concern.

    Grassroots Participation in Solutions. For change to have a lasting basis and foundation in society, it must evolve appropriately. Social anthropology tells us that society’s structures and institutions evolve in a certain way for a reason. Attempts to impose top-down changes will result in those changes becoming part of ‘the problem’ rather than providing the solution, because grassroots participation has not been respected. Many ideas in the report and charter suggest a utopian vision. We know from historical evidence the real dangers from imposing utopian vision on a society. Change, however high-minded, cannot be fast-tracked in a society without devastating upheavals. They must evolve from the grassroots up, or they will inevitably fail, inflicting further damage in unintended consequences.

    The charter includes proposals to improve race relations (anti-discrimination measures in electoral laws, reform institutions prone to ethno-nationalists, eliminate racial categorisation in all government records and registers, re-define the term ‘Fijian’, etc). FAWG Council feels that improving race relations in education can only be addressed by mainstreaming race relations in the system. The proposal to teach Fijian, Hindi and English will have positive, long-term repercussions. This initiative, which has made headway under previous governments, has already proved successful in Malaysia, teaching English, Bahasa, Hindi and Chinese to all school children. But the plan to redefine the term ‘Fijian’ to encompass any Fiji citizen will meet formidable resistance from the Fijians in the short-term and repercussions will actually further damage race relations in the long-term. In other words, the imposed ‘solution’ will become part of the problem with unforeseen unintended consequences. FAWG Council supports the Constitutional common identity, “Fiji Islander”.

    Feedback Process. FAWG Council’s concerns for the ‘People’s Charter’ feedback process are:

    a) Feedback Treatment. If this is a genuine feedback process, it will recognise the entire spectrum of feedback, including the option of total rejection of the charter by the public. If the public’s feedback is respected, the document will undergo modifications based on that feedback. What steps are in place to ensure the process is genuine and not a largescale exercise in rubber-stamping?

    b) Entrapment. The feedback process currently lacks any protection against entrapment. The public is being encouraged to give our feedback to consultation teams, but there are no checks-and-balances in the system to prevent the feedback process becoming Fiji’s copy of the ‘Hundred Flowers’ movement in Mao Tse Tung’s China. 6 FAWG encourages any process which invites genuine consensus-building and feedback to government, but rejects in the strongest possible terms any exercise in entrapment for the sake of drawing out and identifying critics. Structures must be included to prevent critics of the charter being harassed or disadvantaged for voicing their honest opinions.

    c) The Meaning of Silence. FAWG Council believes some members of the public choose to express their viewpoint through silence. In the Pacific, silence as an answer can mean many things, including disagreement. How is this custom taken into consideration? What measures are provided to avoid the pitfall assumption that silence means acquiescence?

    Rhetoric Vs Proof. The ‘People’s Charter’ and ‘State of the Nation and Economy’ report relies heavily on rhetoric to reinforce the vision for ‘one people’. Academics have a number of ways to test for truth in a statement, including statistics, empirical evidence, logic and the ‘null hypothesis’. Most of the rhetoric used in the charter and report fail the above tests for truth. For instance, the oft-repeated phrase that Fiji’s problems are ‘deeprooted and complex’ and thus require the extreme measure of coup-d’etat and charter to counter the problems is a circular argument, which is a logical fallacy. The absence of a clear statement or statistic of ‘the problem’ allows the regime’s ‘solution’ to avoid limitation. The urgent need to reform the electoral system as argued in the report similarly fails, especially on empirical evidence and the null hypothesis. 7

    Finally, the rhetoric used in the charter and report does not open itself to be tested for truth. If it cannot be tested for truth, there is the real possibility that it is false. If passed, the charter has far-reaching implications. Therefore, potential falsehoods contained in the charter’s (and report’s) rhetoric are actually dangerous. The charter and report must replace its rhetoric with output-oriented language that is clear, specific, can be tested for truth and corroborated with evidence.

    FAWG Council’s concerns with the draft charter, the SNE report and feedback processes relate to the role of education, the analysis of the poverty gap and possibility of other analysis failures, the importance of grassroots in promoting solutions, the feedback process itself in terms of treatment, entrapment, and the custom of silence, and uncorroborated rhetoric.

    Conclusion. The draft charter and its consultation process may provide a useful basis for a national conflict resolution process. This would need to be a process of genuine consensus building, where the document can absorb public feedback and evolve accordingly. FAWG Council believes that this charter, in draft or final form, must not be passed before the elections, or it will be illegal.

    It is the opinion of FAWG Council that Fiji’s Constitution is the ultimate legal framework for working out problems in our society. The Constitution has its own procedures, checks and balances for alterations and these must be followed. The charter, SNE and its process cannot replace, supersede or append to the Constitution. Any attempt to alter the Constitution outside of the correct constitutional and parliamentary procedures is illegal.

    FAWG Council believes that more research is needed on how to formulate and solve the long-term problems in Fiji. We recognise the careful and studied process undergone in Bouganville, which is hailed as a success and took up to eight years in planning, consensus building and consultation.

    Given all of the above, FAWG Council concludes that the only legal option is to hold free and fair elections as soon as possible under the Constitution in its legal form as of December 2006.

    ————

    1. “Investing in All the People.” Lawrence H Summers. World Bank Report, May 1992.
    2. World Bank 2001, Schultz 2002, Strauss and Thomas 1995, King and Hill, 1993, quoted in “Gender, equality, poverty and economic growth.” Andrew Morrison, Dhushyanth Raju, Nistha Sinha. World Bank paper, 2007.
    3. Budget figures show prior to the 2006 coup-d’etat annual expenditure on the military was decreasing overall and relative to annual welfare expenditure.
    4. World Bank, op cit.
    5. FAWG recognises the published analyses of : Transparency International ; ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase ; Kamal Iyer ; Professor Victor Lal ; Dr Wadan Narsey ; Richard Naidu ; Tupou Draunidalo.
    6. The campaign slogan, “let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend” was Mao’s signal to China’s intellectuals that he wanted different ideologies to voice their opinions about government and issues of the day. In fact, the Hundred Flowers campaign, which lasted less than 1 year, was used to identify critics of Mao’s regime and silence them.
    7. The ‘State of the Nation and Economy Report,’ alleges that the two coups under the 1997 Constitution are a result of the communal voting system. If we take the antithesis of this statement, ‘the two coups under the 1997 Constitution are not a result of the communal voting system’, we find that both statements test false. Empirical evidence proves that the 1997 Constitution and communal voting system did work because members of the two main parties, SDL and FLP, were working together and ‘nation building’, although there was considerable resistance from the Labour leader. Resistance to the electoral reforms proposed by the charter is evidence that the voting populace of Fiji is not ready to relinquish communal voting. Forcing these changes prematurely will compound electoral divisions, with potentially devastating unintended consequences.

    ———————
    God bless Fiji

  4. sprite Says:

    Vinaka Fijigirl!

    Great pointers here from FAWG on the flawed charter consultation process, the rhetoric of truth and the somewhat poor analysis of the charter drafters who seem to have done a huge cut and paste exercise that doesn’t even use consistent terms (see daily post analysis of 3 and 4 Sept).

  5. painter Says:

    @ FijiGirl – thanks for posting that excellent critique by the FAWG in respect of the doomed charter farter. If you belong to that association of women graduates, I really hope to see more of your sister-graduates step up to the plate and take on leadership roles come national elections.

    I don’t mean to sound sexist guys but I truly think our country could do with more women at the helm of leadership and here’s why :

    – they’re more innovative, creative and resourceful
    – they’re better at managing people and finances
    – they have a strong sense of fair play
    – they are more broadminded and naturally intelligent
    – are naturally smarter and have great instincts esp. that killer instinct
    – they’re better at multi-tasking i.e. can manage their family, their in-laws, organise household affairs includ prudent budgeting, are wise shoppers, organise social/cultural affairs as well as hold down a job or career at the same time!
    – they have a higher degree of tolerance and are ‘a natural’ when it comes to negotiation and take to diplomacy like duck to water (move over lewenski..)
    – they’re easy on the eyes

    …… i could go on and on but its getting late and we also treasure our beauty sleep!

  6. Tim Says:

    Yep, thanks FijiGirl. And I agree with painter – I’ll add another thing to his list: women have better bullshit detectors.
    It maybe why Frank hates Helin Kluk! so much.
    We should thank FAWG for pointing out the Rhetoric .v. Proof part too.
    It says a lot about this entire junta.

  7. painter Says:

    Sorry Tim but it should read ‘her list’…. I’m a female painter. Thanks and g’nite.

  8. Dauvavana Says:

    painter can we discuss this further over a candle lit dinner. I am good at throwing dinner parties for two at secret locations 8)

    we could multitask doing other things as well🙂

  9. painter Says:

    @ daushooter – I’m sure you are but you could also be a green goon in disguise. Plus I can’t do SECRET locations since I disclose all my secrets to my sister, newsfiji, who would in turn post the details on SV.. ni vosota.

  10. Save the Sheep Says:

    There are too many variables and ambiguities in this Charter Thing to just accept or even reject it.

    It should be rejected on the grounds that it is illegal.. PERIOD.

    The thoughts raised in the document all require debate and dialogue. Some might get up but most I imagine have no show because they are plain silly.

    The whole process is a JOKE.

  11. Dauvavana Says:

    Painter taura vakamalua, it was done in jest when you revealed your feminist side. yep, we man have sure stuffed up a lot lately on fiji but also helped along the way by uuuhhhummm Big Mama, Shyster, and One globe Fi among others on then list.

    But hey tauri keiamu vakamalua, we men are the fathers of your children🙂

  12. Dauvavana Says:

    What I meant on my last sentence was people from Mars and thse from Venus need each other otherwise there will be no human race bahahahahaha

  13. painter Says:

    @ Daushooter – no offense taken at all, it’s great to acknowledge and appreciate our differences so that we may co-exist peacefully on planet earth, se va ivei?🙂

    I see that you love children, feel free to ask for help with names since the front portion of my catholic bible has this long list of BOYS’ names, followed by a long list of GIRLS’ names and also provides info about the origins of the names (usually after some saint and the era s/he’s from). Mine doesn’t look good since she was a virgin martyr from France.

  14. Mark Manning Says:

    Has anyone worked out how you can tell when Chaudhry is lying ?
    His lips are moving !
    http://www.truthaboutdeception.com/confront_a_liar/public/compulsive_lying.html

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